Who was he: Leon Trotsky was a Russian theorist, Soviet politician, Marxist revolutionary and the founder and first leader of the Red Army. He was a supporter of the Menshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, but he joined the Bolsheviks prior to the October Revolution in 1917 and eventually became second in command behind Party leader, Vladimir Lenin.
In the early days of the Soviet Union, Trotsky’s first job was People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. He later served as the People’s Commissar of War and founder, as well as commander, of the Red Army. Trotsky played a major role in the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War and was one of the first members of the Politburo.
Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism created by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky considered himself an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik-Leninist, and he fought against Stalin‘s celebration of the bureaucracy. Trotsky wanted workers to be truly in power and was against the celebration of the State, which was Stalin’s focus.
Background: Leon Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein on October 26, 1879, in the southern part of Ukraine. Trotsky was the son of a well-to-do Jewish farmer that valued education. At the age of nine Trotsky’s father let him move to the city of Odessa to live with his uncle and go to school. He developed his intellectual personality and manners during those years.
Trotsky was a capable and exceptionally bright student, so in 1896 he moved to Nicolayev to study mathematics and complete his secondary education. During that time he turned revolutionary. Trotsky was instrumental in founding the South Russia Workers Union in 1897, and in 1898 he played a pivotal role in forming the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). But Trotsky was arrested for his political views and activities a couple of years after the Party was formed. He was deported to Siberia in 1900. He escaped in 1902, and adopted the name Leon Trotsky when he met Valdimir Lenin in London.
Trotsky joined Lenin on the staff of The Spark, which was the Communist newspaper. Lenin and Trotsky enjoyed each other’s views, especially when they engaged in intellectual conversations that pertained to pertinent topics of the day. But when Lenin became the leader of the Bolsheviks at the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903, Trotsky became one of the Menshevik leaders.
When Trotsky returned to Russia in 1905 he got involved in the first Russian Revolution, and was elected president of the St Petersburg Soviet in December of that year. In 1907, Trotsky and other members of the St. Petersburg Soviet were arrested and deported to Western Siberia.
Trotsky escaped while en route to Siberia that year, and attended the Fifth Party Congress in London where he met Stalin for the first time. For the next several years Trotsky stayed busy publishing several papers, one of which was Pravda.
In 1917, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II abdicated so Trotsky went to Russia and became a member of the Central Committe of the Bolshevik Party. Lenin was the uncontested visionary and leader, and Trotsky became second in command. In 1918, he was appointed People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, which is when he founded the Red Army.
In 1922, Lenin became ill. When he died two years later Stalin gained control of the Soviet Union. Because Stalin did not like Trotsky he expelled him from the Excecutive Committe of Comintern in 1927. In 1928, Trotsky was banished to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan and was deported to Turkey in 1929. Trotsky and Stalin represented opposite directions for Communism. Stalin established communist policies that were restrictive in terms of freedom and costly in terms of lives.
When Trotsky was expelled from his homeland he had a hard time finding a country that would grant him asylum. He lived in several countries temporarily, but thanks to artist Diego Rivera’s influence Mexico gave him permission to live there in 1937. In August of 1940, while living in Mexico, Trotsky was attacked with an ice-pick in his office. One of Stalin’s followers was the culprit. The following day Leon Trotsky died.